Closet Envy

As an interior designer, Corey Damen Jenkins only sees the possibilities. “Within reason, there really isn’t much that my clients request that can’t happen,” says the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan–based principal of Design With Vision. For a home in Davisburg, Michigan, Jenkins turned an empty hall closet into a custom butler’s pantry.

“I walked by that closet a thousand times while thinking how we were going to add a butler’s pantry and finally thought, This is perfect. We can do it right here,” says Jenkins. His client had grown up with a butler’s pantry, and all her friends had them in their homes. “She really wanted that feature, so when the family decided to do a full-scale remodel, this was at the top of the list.

“When I opened up the closet, I think I saw a sweater and a box,” the designer says. “It really was a derelict space since they use the mudroom exclusively for family and guests. It was right off the dining room, which was logistically perfect. It couldn’t have been a more perfect fit, and it visually hits you when you walk in the front door.”

The butler’s pantry is around the corner from the kitchen, and although it’s primarily used for entertaining, the pantry also provides storage and display space. The homeowner had inherited demitasse cups and china from her grandmother, so the cabinets were lit to highlight her special collections. Glass-front cabinets above the bar contain glass shelves instead of wood. “When you have rows of glass shelves, the transparency of the glass provides a nice cascading of light,” says Jenkins about the objects that glisten from within. “It almost looks like jewelry.” The closed cabinetry below the bar area houses silverware and other dining essentials.

Mixed woods provide a striking contrast between the white cabinetry below the bar and the darker walnut above. “Some might not think to [mix and match cabinetry] in a small space, but it’s a good place to get your feet wet and play around,” says Jenkins. “Have fun with it. You might be looking to do your kitchen in the future and this is a good way to start.”

For the backsplash, a colorful assortment of custom porcelain and glass tiles laid in an eye-catching harlequin pattern complements the warm honey hue on the walls. A built-in wine rack provides convenient storage overhead. The butcher-block countertop features a custom stain, while the dark finish of the distressed knobs on the lower cabinets ties into the color of the upper cabinets. Custom-carved feet add detail. “The piece was designed to look like custom furniture,” Jenkins says.

This project serves as the perfect example of what can be achieved with some imagination and proper planning. “The bones were always there; they just needed to maximize the potential and make better use of the space,” Jenkins says. “Before, there was a lot of negative space below the stairwell. Now, the butler’s pantry is a big player within the layout of the room.”—Published in the April 2012 Issue of Your Home & Lifestyle

Matlow, Jeannie. “Closet Envy” Your Home & Lifestyle Magazine. April 2010: Pages Unknown. Print.